The Dia Art Foundation announced today that it will hold a major Robert Ryman show this year at its Chelsea building. Opening December 9 and titled “Robert Ryman: Real Light, 1958–2007,” the show will survey six decades of painting by Ryman. This is Ryman’s first major solo museum show in New York City since 1993, when the Museum of Modern Art held a traveling retrospective.
As the New York Times reported, many of the works in this show will come from the Hallen für Neue Kunst, formerly located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Last year, the Hallen für Neue Kunst, which was considered to have one of the world’s greatest collections of Minimalist art, was closed after losing a 10-year legal battle over a Joseph Beuys installation. The court fees became so expensive that the foundation funding the Hallen für Neue Kunst could no longer support it. Now, with the Dia Art Foundation show, works by Ryman that rarely ever left the Swiss museum will come to New York.
Ryman is best known for his white paintings, which can seem, at first glance, to be entirely monochromatic, but, upon a closer look, feature subtly different tones of white. Ryman doesn’t consider his paintings to be discrete works—he also views the space surrounding the paintings to be part of the art. In an effort to include space in his art, Ryman has also worked in three dimensions, using such materials as aluminum, Plexiglas, and fiberglass. (“Real Light” will offer the chance to see Ryman’s under-studied sculptural work.) This attention to perception and a lack of color has led many critics to include Ryman in the Minimalist and Post-Minimalist movements of the late 1960s and ’70s, and his work hangs near artists like Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Fred Sandback at Dia’s museum in Beacon, New York.
“We are thrilled that audiences will have an unprecedented opportunity to experience Ryman’s wide-ranging studio output at both Dia:Chelsea and Dia:Beacon,” Jessica Morgan, the director of the Dia Art Foundation, said in a statement to the press, “linking two of our New York sites through his remarkable practice.”